Airborne laser terrain mapping systems have redefined the realm of topographic mapping. Lidars with kilohertz
collection rates and long ranges have made airborne surveying a quick, efficient and highly productive endeavor. Despite
the current industry efforts toward improving airborne lidar range, collection rate, resolution and accuracies, and with the
advent of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and their myriad advantages, military and civil applications alike are
looking for very compact and rugged lidar systems that can fit within the tight volumetric, form-factor, mass and power
constraints imposed by UAVs.
Optech has developed a very compact airborne laser terrain mapper that's geared toward UAV deployment. The system
is composed of a highly integrated unit that combines a lidar transceiver, a position orientation sensor and control
electronics in a 1 cubic foot - 57 lb package. Such level of compactness is achieved by employing the latest laser
technology trends along with featuring very compact optical design, and using the latest control and data collection
architecture technology. This paper describes the UAV requirements that drove the system design, the technology
employed and optimizations implemented in the system to achieve its ultra-compact size.